BA pilots mull appeal after losing holiday pay case

British Airways pilots’ representatives will consider whether to appeal against today’s ruling by the Court of Appeal that they were only entitled to holiday pay based on their basic salaries.

British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) spokesman Keith Bill said the union had been given leave to appeal to the House of Lords and its members’ committee would decide in the next couple of weekswhether to appeal. He added that the ruling will also affect other airlines’ pilots, such as Virgin and easyJet which follow BA practice on holiday pay.

The pilots, through Balpa, had argued that their holiday pay should be based on basic salary plus other extras including flying supplements and allowances for time spent away from their base airport.

An example given to the court was that while working, a pilot could earn an average of £8,037 a month plus a flying supplement of £709 and an allowance of £86. But, for holiday pay, the amount paid would be the basic £8,037.

Lord Justice Rimer, presiding, said the pilots could not succeed unless they could point to a national law or practice providing for the claimed level of holiday pay. He said they couldn’t, and that BA was not in breach of regulations.

He therefore upheld BA’s appeal against earlier rulings at Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal.

A BA spokesman said: We are pleased with the decision of the court. We have always been of the view that our holiday pay arrangements are generous and comply with legislative requirements.”

Michael Delaney, employment partner at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin, commented: “This (ruling) seems to be contrary to section 224 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 which provides that if there are no normal working hours, as is the case here, a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating holiday pay normally includes an average of all sums earned in the previous 12 weeks, including any overtime and commissions – such as supplements paid for flying time and away from base payments.

“This means no back pay claims can be entertained, thus saving the airlines from having to pay out on breach of contract claims.”

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